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Discussion in 'Breakfast with Gazza (with Sachmoneious Bullcrap)' started by Titans Bastard, Jul 1, 2014.
Seeing Wondo make this finish off the volley yesterday makes me sad:
How many thousands of times since 2014 do you think he's practiced a far-post volley from the 6? Gotta be at least 5. His name literally became a joke in US footballing circles. I dunno if he was driven to Tom Brady levels of fanatical devotion but he's gotta be no more than a rung or two shy of it.
Hard to say whether this one was tougher than the one vs Belgium, where the goalkeeper actually tried to field his position. You know, the more I watch the ill-fated play, the more I think it was a really tough task, not the tap-in that's become lore. With the keeper coming, he has to chip the ball, or play a full-power shot to a narrow window around the post. The chip is probably higher percentage, but then requires very delicate weight.
Kenny Saeif picked up a groin injury and has been replaced by Chris Pontius.
Bummer. Saeif was one of the players I really wanted to see tested at the Gold Cup.
USMNT drops 12 spots in FIFA rankings to 35th. Worst ever was 36th.
Wow. I wish I could buy futures on the ranking. I think that will look anomalous coming out of the current WC cycle.
Whomever compiles the rankings probably remembers this happening during Arena 1.
The FIFA ranking methodology is notoriously awful. I wouldn't pay any attention to that at all.
In ELO, the US moved from #32 to #28 in June and has since moved to #25 after the Ghana friendly. ELO is far from perfect, but I find it to be a bit more sensible overall.
The U17 World Cup draw was made this morning. These were the pots:
Pot 1: India, Mexico, Brazil, Germany, Mali, France
Pot 2: Spain, Japan, New Zealand, England, Iran, USA
Pot 3: Costa Rica, Korea DPR, Honduras, Iraq, Turkey, Colombia
Pot 4: Chile, Paraguay, Ghana, Guinea, Niger, New Caledonia
The US lucked out with the seeds, drawing India. On paper, the rest of the group is as tough as it could be - Colombia and Ghana.
At the U17 level, you never know who is actually good in any given year. Big name countries can suck and random countries can have a strong cycle. 17 year olds aren't known for the consistency of their performances, either. At the 2007 U17 WC, the US lost to Tajikistan, but beat a Belgium team that featured Eden Hazard and Christian Benteke. Belgium finished last in the group. The US finished second in the group with a squad that turned out to be one of the least talented U17 groups we've had in the modern era.
This is a good read on the tug of war for Mexican-American players between FMF and USSF:
It's true that youth tournaments in the US, particularly in highly Hispanic areas, are absolutely crawling with Liga MX scouts.
I like that the article highlighted the Alianza organization, which I believe has been badly underutilized by MLS. It's an organization that is basically vacuuming up random Hispanic talent that has fallen through the cracks and serving it up in one place. Now that about half the league has USL teams to stash young talent, there's no excuse not to pursue these guys harder.
Cross-posting from the Gold Cup thread, but what's your US XI right now?
Deuce, Zardes, Arriola, Morris, Rowe off the bench.
Edit: Forgot Deuce doh!
I think Bobby Wood has to prove he's in better form than Morris or Altidore before I put him out there. I also trust Villafana, based on the last 6 games, more than I trust Besler, which means I need Cameron as stopper. We dominated the midfield with the 4-4-2, so I think we stick with it unless the opposition dictates otherwise:
Altidore - Morris
Johnson - Bradley - Nagbe - Pulisic
Villafana - Cameron - Brooks - Yedlin
Top subs: Dempsey (duh), Acosta, Wood.
- Could leave FJ at LB against top wingers and putting Acosta at LM instead. But Johnson was at LM vs T&T and rocked it.
- Zusi will never have Yedlin's speed, or his attacking power, but he also never falls asleep. If Yedlin's not in top form, you could put Zusi in and have Yedlin as first sub off the bench against a tired D.
- Arena started Ream and the corpse of DMB (!) on the left side at Azteca, and came away with a point. Ream could easily take Villafana's place if he's in good form, I'm a believer of his.
We'll know in a month what Arena thinks, vs CRC's A-team in the Jerz.
This is a very different conclusion about Zusi than what I've come to. All I've seen is all the ignorance of how to play the position of Yedlin from three years ago, minus any recovery speed whatsoever.
+1. Zusi cannot play FB at this level and he's been passed in the MF as well IMO.
Well, that's an interesting question. Let's look at the RB position during the Second Coming of Arena:
(friendlies in Italics)
Nov 11 v MEX: Besler / Chandler in 5-3-2, Yedlin on for Chandler at 74'
Nov 15 @ CRC: Chandler, 90
--- JK fired, BA hired ---
Jan 29 v SRB: Zusi, 90
Feb 3 v JAM: Zusi, 90 (Captain)
Mar 24 v HON: Cameron; Zusi on at 59'
Mar 28 @ PAN: Zusi, 90
Jun 3 v VEN: Yedlin; Zusi on at 90'
Jun 8 v TRI: Yedlin, 90 (2-3-3-2?)
Jun 11 @ MEX: Cameron / Yedlin in 5-3-2, for 90
Jul 1 v GHA: Zusi, 90
G1 v PAN: Zusi, 90
G2 v MTQ: Lichaj, 90
G3 v NCA: Zusi, 90
QF v SLV: Lichaj, 90
SF v CRC: Zusi, 90
F v JAM: Zusi, 90
I'm not sure where Yedlin and Chandler are in Arena's plans. I'm not a huge fan of Chandler, and I realize that Lichaj is mostly treated as a prospect here for the USMNT, despite being the 28-year-old captain of a team in the English Championship. I love Yedlin (as do his supporters, though Benitez just signed some competition for him) and can't wait to watch him in the PL this season, but he's been entirely MIA this summer with no explanation I can easily find.
Regardless, "Zusi can't play at this level" might be an exaggeration, since he hasn't had any glaring failures while playing against teams up to the quality of Costa Rica.
That's damning with faint praise. No "glaring failures" while playing teams "up to the quality of Costa Rica".
And Yedlin had a bad hammy earlier this year. He was back in camp in June before T&T and Mexico, but perhaps not 100% healed.
Zusi was turned around and out of position multiple times last night, is hesitant with the ball, and generally looks not very comfortable or instinctual back there. Mentioned it in the Gold Cup thread but he doesn't have the goods as Beasley did to make this transition, in part because he was never very good in the first place. Yedlin is the guy and any commitment to Zusi is a Wondo-level acceptance of mediocrity at best. He shouldn't be anywhere near the back line in important games.
Also think Morris is much more in the prove-it stage than Wood, whose most recent efforts have shown him a bit worn down and banged up, so yes he needs to show he's in form but he's the better player. Morris has been kind of a disappointment, and nice finish last night aside, has never really flashed for me after bursting onto the scene. Maybe we need to see him up front with Pulisic in the mix as they struggled to turn possession in the midfield into actual dangerous opportunities.
That may well be - I'm not polishing any turds here, just gathering facts. (Jed - appreciate the observations) But it's clear Zusi's no worse than 2nd on the depth chart. Sounds like SoSH would unanimously take Yedlin on the first-choice lineup. All I'm saying is, for the moment it looks like Arena is unconcerned about Zusi, at least in CONCACAF play. And Zusi's total commitment to the USMNT, and tenure as a veteran presence, clearly adds to his value in the eyes of both recent managers.
For the next cycle, a 4-2-3-1 with Morris-Nagbe-Pulisic behind Dwyer or Wood could really give teams fits. Or even FJ - Pulisic - Morris, with Nagbe back at DM, if we determine Villafana or Ream are trustworthy at LB. But the problem with getting full value out of Pulisic's talent is that so few other of our players are used to perceiving and expecting the kind of tight-window interplay (and knowledge of when/where to crash the box) that makes him so dangerous for BVB. Wood can do that. Dempsey of course. Nagbe shows flashes. And you're right that Morris isn't the solution, at least not yet.
Ain't that the truth, and it's really a full-field issue, not just finding that final pass in the box. How many times does Bradley or a defender end up hoofing it upfield because there's nobody in sight, whereas Pulisic is used to having 3 or 4 options in his immediate vicinity every time he touches the ball.
To be fair to Zusi and the defense as a whole, no single player is going to look as good as they would with Brooks and especially Cameron back there to organize and keep the whole show calm. Interested to see how it shakes out back there because Cameron has been so important to the backline, but could provide the defensive connective tissue at DM that has been lacking post-Beckerman, except with a player who is so much better in just about every facet of the game.
Formations aren't really my specialty so I'll leave that to others and stick to my eye test that tells me who I think is good . Eager to see what Arena rolls out September 1.
Yedlin was injured in March so he couldn't have played against Honduras or Panama
I think Zusi is as a backup is fine, he can play both midfield and RB, neither all that well but in case of injury he could suffice. The only other options are probably Cameron who's better used elsewhere, or Lichaj who plays left for his club, hasn't played a ton with the squad and might not bring whatever Zusi brings to the lockerroom. If FJ and Cameron are there, they could be the go-to in case of an injury to Yedlin in a tournament, which makes Zusi's more experience more preferable than Lichaj. I like Lichaj but don't know if it's going to happen for him just because of years out of the program.
Edit: didn't see DrewDawg's post mentioning Yedlin.
Not to belabor the point, but I don't think the bolded can be overstated. If the US can find a CB pair that can handle the backline without Cameron, it could be transformative to the USMNT. You could pair him with Bradley in a 4-2-3-1, which is Bradley's ideal role (however narrow it may be) or you can skip him and go with a 4-1-3-2/4-1-4-1 of sorts (you could also think about it as a 4-3-2-1/4-3-1-2 depending on defensive responsibilities of the outside players) with any number of combination of forward players. The DMF is the fulcrum of many modern formations and having a capable one for the US could really open things up.
What really stood out to me about Bradley's role during this Gold Cup was how much simpler it was than what he'd been trying to do under Klinsmann. He's the pivot and distributor, he plays closer to his own goal, he doesn't charge into the attack (unless, you know, he can chip Memo Ochoa...), and he only assists on sideline clashes if he has coverage for the space he leaves behind in the middle. Watching him against CRC and Jamaica, it seemed like his pass completion was nearly perfect on short passes on the ground, and even his long speculative balls were not overly-ambitious. It seemed his damaging-turnover rate (which is disastrous for a DMF) has dropped to basically zero, whereas the earlier pages of this thread were filled with "WTF Bradley get your shit together" posts. Now, maybe he's not adding as much on offense as he used to, or as his previous role might have offered, but he's playing within his abilities.
That role does overlap a lot with how Cameron would play DMF. When Stoke plays him there, from what I can recall, he's much more free to engage farther on the sides, he rotates when a fill is needed, he can attack when the opportunity presents itself, and he challenges opponents on the dribble more between the edge of his box and midfield (whereas Bradley looks to pass first there, perhaps owing to his lack of speed). We would see a very different style with Cameron at DMF, with fewer pinpoint long balls and maybe a lower pass completion rate, but more aggressive on just about everything else. I feel like Cameron is a poor man's Mascherano, whereas Bradley is a poor man's Fernandinho. I'm not sure they would play very well together, whereas Cameron paired with, say, Nagbe, would offer a lot more mutual reinforcement.
At one point, I think it was in Bob Bradley's tenure, the U.S. played with Cameron and Bradley together in the midfield. As I recall, that was when the U.S. was playing flat in central midfield, so it was almost certainly Bradley coaching. They looked great together in one match, with Cameron playing more defensively and Bradley playing more offensively.
Curiously, the pairing wasn't really tried much after that. I think there might have been one more match where they didn't look as good. Other than that, my best recollection was that the main issue was Cameron was too much needed elsewhere to get him back in with Bradley.
It was actually under Klinsmann in 2013 in a qualifier against Panama. Besler and Gonzalez started at CB.
What makes me nervous about moving Cameron to DM is that he is the key organizer in the backline. A Brooks/Gonzalez pairing, for example, has "disjointed position" written all over it.
Yedlin picked up a hamstring injury and a friendly against Mainz on July 29. Yesterday, Benitez said he'd be out 2-3 weeks. Let's hope it doesn't linger because the next WCQ vs. Costa Rica is on September 1.
Andrew Carleton gets some B-R hype. Note: the kid is now 17, turns 18 at the end of next June. So if he rocks everyone's world the rest of this year and into next, he could entertain some transfer offers midway through next year, perhaps transfer in the spring and train with reserves for a bit before signing a pro contract on his 18th bday. But I'm not buying the hype if he opts for a Jordan Morris-like approach to challenging himself at the top levels.
Carleton has some really strong technical and creative qualities that are uncommon for the US pool, but I'm not going all in on him until it becomes clear how his athleticism translates at the adult level.
As far as I've seen, Carleton certainly doesn't have the explosiveness to do this:
[Ignore the stupid content of the tweet, who doesn't think Pulisic is athletic?]
Anyway, Carleton has played a grand total of four minutes in MLS and he's going to miss a chunk of the rest of the season with the U17 World Cup in October, so it's not like transfer offers are going to be pouring in just yet. Hopefully he gets more run in 2018. He's still very young.
Also of note: assuming Carleton signed a four year contract, he'll still be nine months younger at its expiration on 12/31/20 (he'll be 20 years, six months) than Jordan Morris was when he signed his contract in January 2016 (21 years, three months).
I wouldn't be surprised if Josh Sargent turns out to be the U17 attacker worthy of the most hype, but it's the U17s so I like to aggressively hedge just about any opinion about any player in the age bracket. (Nothing's been announced, but media types have said that Sargent is definitely heading to Werder Bremen when he turns 18 this winter. And I wouldn't be surprised if he turned down offers from larger clubs than that.)
Good christ, that Pulisic GIF. And that was against Bayern fuckin Munich.
Yeah, TB, I realize we don't have a dedicated youth thread here - maybe you'd like to start one, certainly nobody else has the creds to do so - but at some point I'd love to see your "US prospect rankings", for anyone who isn't already a first-team club starter somewhere. But I'd love to hear you talk about Sargent vs EPB vs Ebobisse vs Kunga vs Carleton here and everyone else who's nearing some decisive points in their career trajectory. Who has the highest ceiling? The lowest floor? I feel like I have some sense in looking at a prospect in baseball or college football and having some idea of how they'll develop, but in soccer and basketball I'm basically flying blind in trying to control for quality of opposition or whatever.
He covers this shit quite well in the yanks abroad thread.
Dude needs a venmo page or something.
DRS-style copays? Heh. Yeah, with the length of those country-by-country summaries of Americans, we're basically subscribed to his newsletter for free.
Unified prospect rankings aren't my style because I find it too difficult to meaningfully compare a 20 year old with a 17 year old. It feels too arbitrary. There's always a bit of a bullshit factor in that almost nobody can see all these guys, many of whom are dispersed in various academies in different countries, often enough to truly know what they are talking about. I think over the years of following this stuff I have gotten pretty good at reading the tea leaves regarding a player's progress, but am only a mediocre talent evaluator (if we score it using the more generous armchair fan scale, of course, as opposed to the real thing in which we are all rank amateurs). I also have a buddy who is involved in media who often has scoops that help shape my opinions.
Evaluating prospects is a tough business. Players in their mid/late teens are all over the place in terms of physical maturity. The U17 World Cup rosters from all over the world are laden with January and February birthdays (early maturers), which is part of the reason why those rosters have a huge attrition rate with players even from power countries never having real pro careers. Then, I find rating athletic and technical attributes to be relatively simple, but gauging how quickly players see the game and identify solutions to require more concentration and practice. And of course, some kids just have a shit work ethic and fall behind their peers, but it's usually impossible to know about any individual player - at least at the time.
I still don't really know what to look for in young goalkeepers, to be honest.
In any case, I'm probably highest on EPB, Sargent, and McKennie right now. Along with Pulisic (who is younger than EPB and McKennie), these are guys who I think have the strongest chance to be foundational players for the USMNT.
Carleton could be special, pending how his athleticism and ability to create separation from defenders pans out.
I don't count Ebobisse and Kunga among our elite prospects, though I saw some good stuff from Ebo in a start for the Timbers recently (a goal and an assist with some solid holdup play. I need to see more of Kunga.
The U17 WC will be the first time I'll have a chance to take a good look at a lot of those players. Between those guys and the most recent U20 age cohort, it seems like we have more young professionals - irons in the fire - than ever before.
Yedlin and Gonzalez are nursing minor injuries and may be in doubt for the September qualifiers. Brooks was subbed out of Wolfsburg's cup game in the first half, supposedly clutching his thigh. No word yet on the severity.
On the flip side, to the extent that Stoke did anything at all against Everton, Geoff Cameron was right in the middle of it and looks to have his attacking instincts in good form. Therefore we'll be playing him at CB, of course...
Sometimes I think Geoff Cameron is our second best player, but I'm not quite sure where to best play him.
Welp. No Brooks for the last four WCQ.
Big oppty for Matt Besler. Too bad Hedges shat the bed in the GC.